Background: In 1994, Dr. Virgil Gulker conducted research focused on a single question: How could local churches best serve America's at-risk children? The result of his extensive investigation surprised many people; provide caring and committed adult mentors to fill the relational void many of these children experience. Dr. Gulker then applied this learning to launch KIDS HOPE USA.
From a simple question to the largest national faith-based mentoring program, Virgil's insightful leadership and groundbreaking innovation catalyzed this organization's growth. Now, after 18 years of relentless work to reach America's most vulnerable children, Virgil will retire.
But his legacy will remain. In fact, it will thrive!
The Legacy Vision: To reach more children, KIDS HOPE USA must continue to innovate. To address this fundamental need, we plan to redeploy a few key existing staff members to form the Virgil Gulker Center for Leadership and Innovation.
Called the "CLI," this area will focus on key questions, develop new programs, craft needed changes in existing program elements, and continually push the organization toward innovations with a singular focus: reach more children with life-changing hope and love.
Details: The first three priority projects for the CLI:
1. Local mentoring program expansion: How can KIDS HOPE USA effectively support local church-school programs that desire to grow and reach more at-risk children? Nearly every school with a KIDS HOPE USA program has a waiting list of students.
2. Middle School program development: Our current program runs through elementary years, so how can we formally enable KIDS HOPE USA relationships that want to continue to expand through the middle school years? Many children need the steady presence of their mentor as they face this challenging season of life.
3. National mentoring program evaluation: What right-sized evaluation instruments(s) do we need to determine, and articulate, program effectiveness internally and externally? Abundant stories of life change exist, now we need to share solid data to prove what every program knows: kids' lives change for the better.
Need: Consistent with KIDS HOPE USA's conservative fiscal habits, modest funding will fuel the CLI. A first-year budget of $165,000 will enable the three projects described. This investment will position KIDS HOPE USA for aggressive expansion and help us maintain the position of leadership and innovation in the faith-based mentoring field created by our founder, Dr. Virgil Gulker.
Please consider a gift of whatever you can to KIDS HOPE USA's CLI, so we can do all we can. Together, we can make a tremendous difference in many young lives. The legacy continues...